April 2008

Ori Dagan and Brandi Disterheft – Bass & Bass
with special guest La-Nai Gabriel
April 28, 2008 Gate 403 Toronto
Twisting and Swinging through the Standards
by Joyce Corbett with photo by Roger Humbert
Voice and bass is a nice combination for the ear, and Ori Dagan has recently been exploring its challenges and possibilities. With less instrumentation the voice can be more easily freed and yet, this freedom comes at a price — as Dagan says, you have to pick pitches out of the air. The bass gets to play multiple roles, playing with, weaving around and responding to the human voice with its own, soloing and moving the music along. All roles which Brandi Disterheft played admirably on this Monday night. In contrast to many well-known duos such as Sheila Jordan and Harvie Swartz, Nancy King and Glen Moore or Jackie Allen and Hans Sturm, with Dagan and Disterheft, D&D, you get an interplay of B&B, or double bass. An impressive example of Ori’s range was the flawless descent to the solid bottom of his register with which he finished a beautiful rendition of “Nature Boy”. The young saxophonist La-Nai Gabriel added her warm and articulate sounds on several tunes, expanding the duo into a trio.
From the top of his hat to the bottom of his multi-coloured shoes, Dagan as a performer commands attention. Fortunately, he has a voice to match, on this occasion delivering three sets of standards with some quite un-standard twists, such as his operatic flourish at the end of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and his own playful “just to kill time, well, not kill it, but…” a cappella number, “Super Mario Brothers Variations” (1 and 2) which delighted and surprised the audience.
Ori Dagan & Brandi Disterheft

It obviously gives Dagan great joy to sing for and interact with his listeners. Paraphrasing from a conversation with him after the first set, “This is what I really enjoy. Corporate gigs pay more but in most cases the music is just background. In a setting like this, people are paying attention, it’s inspiring. You can try things out and see if they work, see how people respond.” On this night, with an elfin twinkle in his eyes, he did just that, thoroughly engaging his audience.

With Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks and Anita O’Day among Ori Dagan’s most admired singers it is no surprise that Dagan likes to scat, improvise words and play with melody and rhythm. After the “no more sugar” line of “Honeysuckle Rose” he inserted such bits as “I can’t afford it” and “not even Sweet ‘n Low”. His “Green Dolphin Street” contained a commentary on the humanlike qualities and intelligence of dolphins. Dagan also loves to throw himself into the sustained passages of fast-flowing word-filled rhythms of tunes such as “Four Brothers”, in which he sang the four vocalese horn parts and “thank God, there’s only four!” These abilities enable him to sound entirely convincing when he takes flight with “Twisted”, a real standout of the evening. The concluding “What a Wonderful World” ended the evening with a sense of peace and wonderment. Much maturity as well as talent was evidenced in the musicianship of these three young “players”.




We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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